As we began the planning process to develop our five-year Strategic Plan, we recently conducted a series of six strategic conversations around major themes: academic programs; student, alumni and faculty services; student success; future demographics and culture; next-generation teaching and learning; and brand. Small groups volunteered to participate in the process by sharing their ideas for the future and enabling rich discussion during college-wide open forums.
The organizing framework of these sessions centered on what Excelsior College will look like in 2019: to whom will we deliver our programs and services and how we will deliver them. The brief presentations were meant to kick off group discussion and help us all envision our future state in 2019.
Adjunct faculty and students were invited to participate, either in person, live from a distance, or asynchronously via archived webcasts. I was delighted to see how many of our faculty did participate and how actively they shared their vision for our collective future. The presentations were engaging, exciting, and generated great discussion among the members of our College community. During each session, information was collected on the points made by each presenter/presenter group as well as from the group discussion which followed. You can see the results of the information gathered in the survey results reports following each link.
Space does not allow me to discuss all of the wonderful ideas that were generated by these sessions. All of them were well attended and the energy generated by the presentations and excellent discussion was really exciting. A few major themes emerged around the area of student success. There is a desire to better leverage technology in order to serve our students more efficiently so that our academic advisors have more time to build relationships with students and do more developmental advising. We want to create a more personalized experience with students from pre-enrollment through graduation and on to alumni status.
We also want to create new methods for developing and delivering course content that is of high quality, engaging, and at the same time, cost-effective and scalable. For example, through a Gates Foundation grant, we are currently piloting a few courses that use adaptive learning strategies to allow students to demonstrate prior learning in the subject area, to focus on what now needs to be learned, and to move through the course at a more personalized pace. In addition, we are creating a Center for Game and Simulation-Based Learning. One of the objectives of the Center is to integrate educational games and simulations across degree programs in order to foster a more transformative learning environment.
As you probably know we plan to continue to build the former Faculty Support Center into a full-service Faculty Resource Center that will include more features designed to support our teaching faculty, such as school-specific pages, information on the Faculty Steering Committee (including minutes, agendas, and reports) and what is perhaps the most anticipated feature: a professional development portal called the Center for Excellence Teaching, Learning and Assessment (CETLA) [pronounced set-lah]. Many of the changes being made are directly related to data and information provided to us by you, the teaching faculty. Look for the launch of this new Faculty Resource Center in December 2013!
Now is the time to vision our preferred future, lay the groundwork, and implement our five-year strategic plan. While 2019 will come quickly, it is great to know that there is tremendous energy and lots of ideas on how we can better deliver on our mission, provide highly engaging learning environments, and increase student retention and graduation rates. I look forward to working with all of you as we continue on this journey together!
If you didn’t have a chance to view these sessions, it is not too late. You can find links to each session here:
Student, Alumni and Faculty Services (8/22/13)
Future Demographics and Culture (8/29/13)
Student Success (9/5/13)
Academic Programs (9/9/13)
Editor’s Note: See additional Strategic Planning coverage—“Strategic Planning Sessions Garner Faculty Input,” and “Strengthening the Faculty Foundation.”